A new, bipartisan proposal to keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists got a major boost Tuesday after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) agreed to allow it to come to a vote on the Senate floor as early as this week.
Early indications are that the measure has redrawn the normal contours of the gun control debate, with some vulnerable GOP senators getting onboard with centrist Democrats. It’s not clear that the the bill will have sufficient support from Republicans or Democrats to pass, but it does suggest more moderate GOP senators are feeling political pressure to act after the attack in Orlando earlier this month.
During a press conference unveiling the new compromise legislation, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) announced McConnell had given the green light for the amendment to get a floor vote.
“Many of us had a meeting with the Senate Majority Leader Senator McConnell today,” Collins announced at the presser, referring to a bipartisan group of senators who support the bill. “He did say that he would give us a vote on this important amendment.”
The legislation would bar individuals on the No-Fly List and the Selectee list from purchasing guns, but they would be able to appeal the decision under the proposal and have their attorney fees covered if it becomes clear they were wrongly blocked from buying a gun. The legislation would also ping law enforcement when someone who has been on the broader terrorism watch list in the last five-years buys a gun.
The amendment is a much narrower provision than that introduced in 2015 by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), which barred a wider swath of individuals on the terrorist watchlist from purchasing guns in the first place.
The legislation appears to be scrambling party lines with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), who is up for re-election in the fall, all supporting the legislation. According to a report from Politico, that Republican list of supporters could grow as backers of the proposal sought the support of Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Rob Portman (R-OH) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) Tuesday.
The announcement of the bipartisan breakthrough came less than 24 hours after four gun bills failed on the Senate floor Monday night. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) told reporters Tuesday that the bipartisan gun legislation could be an opportunity to take the politics out of the gun debate and get something done.
For Republicans. the proposal is politically precarious with the National Rifle Association already showing signs of opposition to the bill. But when pressed on whether the proposal infringed on a person’s Second Amendment rights, Graham—who has an A- from the NRA as of 2014—pushed back.
“We built in due process to make sure that if someone is wrongly on this list, they can get off,” Graham said. “That is an inconvenience. What if you buy the damn gun? Then, what do you do? So I am balancing the likelihood of someone on the list buying the gun and using it against somebody on the list who is innocently on it.”